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Home / Life! / Entertainment / 10 LA bookstores for your inner geek

10 LA bookstores for your inner geek

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Geeks used to get a bad rap in pop culture, yet over the years, leaning into the geekiness within has grown in popularity. 

Non-prescription glasses, open D&D [Dungeons & Dragons] sessions and thoroughly enjoying other activities typically considered too geeky to admit have become points of pride and open community. 

For some, geek chic is a trend they love participating in. For others, it’s a way of life, and no matter which category you fall into, there are tons of places throughout Los Angeles County that appeal to the different types of geekdom. 

Whether you’re a comic book nerd, someone who lives and breathes Bookstagram, or someone who loves spending their days wandering through aisles finding literary surprises, here are 10 bookstores for your inner geek. 

LOS ANGELES AREA

  1. The Last Bookstore

This one may seem like an obvious choice, but The Last Bookstore is simply geek heaven. The two-story bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles isn’t just a purveyor of books new and used, but its pretty extensive vinyl record section and comic book shop Dungeon Dungeon (the sister comic shop to Secret Headquarters) only adds to what makes The Last Bookstore such a must-see destination. 

With its many Instagram-worthy locations, you’ll recognize familiar bits, bobs and locales of the shop from various corners of social media and the internet. The tunnels and windows made of books are probably the most distinguishable, other than its bank vaults and pillars, and posed page art. And, if you want to keep the aesthetic vibes going, their sister bookstore Lost Books is nestled in a garden in Montrose and is well worth the trip.

Located at: 453 S Spring St – Ground Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013 | 11 am – 8 pm | 213-488-0599

2. Book Soup 

Queer-focused, the historic Book Soup shop on Sunset in West Hollywood has been the go-to spot for bibliophiles, tourists, musicians and the LA elite, for a good reason. In addition to its large selection of LGBTQIA+ literature, Book Soup is the largest general-interest independent bookstore in West Hollywood. 

The bookstore has been around since 1975 and with the slogan “Bookseller to the Great and Infamous,” it’s easy to see why once you stroll through. Not only may you spot one of your favorite (or least) celebrities perusing, but their literal floor-to-ceiling collection of over 60,000 film, music, art, photography and fiction titles will keep you occupied for hours. 

8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, Ca | 310.659.3110 |  Open daily 10:00 am – 7:00 pm

3, The Iliad Bookshop 

If there’s one thing every bibliophile knows, it’s that cats are the best company for time spent buried in a book. Thankfully for us, The Iliad Bookshop in NoHo has two of them who love to be a part of the literary mix. And while everyone loves some furry friends, they aren’t the only reason why the shop made it on The LA Times “65 Best Bookstores in L.A.” list this year. The store’s extensive collection of used-only books can fill up hours of your time with titles to rummage through. 

The winding rows of bookshelves end up creating many nooks and crannies to curl up in with whatever tickles your fancy to flip through in-store. Bonus: the cats will likely come up and join you as well, making the experience even better.

5400 Cahuenga Blvd. (corner of Cahuenga & Chandler), North Hollywood, CA 91601 | 818.509.2665 | Sun.-Mon: Closed, Tues-Sat: 11am-7pm

4. Skylight Books 

Somewhat out of left field in the context of this list is Skylight Books, the Los Feliz bookshop that, unlike the others, only sells new books. Although it doesn’t offer used or consignment items, Skylight has remained a Los Angeles staple since it opened its doors in 1996. 

They carefully curate their varied selection, featuring everything from hyperlocal literature on California culture to creative nonfiction and zines. 

While the newness to their inventory is part of their local fame, their knack for booking some of the best in famous touring authors, new releases and debuts and other larger-scale events has brought them notoriety on a national level. 

The store typically has something for every day of the week to check out. Their schedule is great for seeing what they’ve got slated for the rest of the month and throughout the end of the year.

1818 North Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, Ca 90027 | 323.660.1175 | Open daily 10 am-10 pm 

LONG BEACH

5. Blackstar Collectibles 

Even though not technically a bookstore in the classical sense, Blackstar Collectibles deserves a place on this list for its extensive geekish delights. The black-owned and operated comic book and collectible shop, which has locations in Carson and Long Beach, will make you feel like a kid in a candy store. 

Comics aren’t the only things that fill their shelves—if you’re looking for that last Black Panther action figure or hip hop Funko Pop to complete your collection, you’re in luck. 

They specialize in black pop culture ephemera and are one of the only shops to do so, making sure the appreciation for Black art—particularly in “geek” or “nerd” spaces—transcends the month of February. Blackstar Collectibles even sells clothes donning some of the Black superheroes and comic book characters you won’t find in your typical Hot Topic or other nerd novelty-leaning store.

SouthBay Pavilion Mall: 20700 S Avalon Blvd, Carson, CA 90746 | 310.400.7020 | Open daily 11am-7pm

The Pike: 95 S Pine Ave, Long Beach, CA 90802 | 562.281.3924 | Mon-Thurs: 12 pm-7 pm,

Fri: 12pm-9pm, Sat: 10am-9pm, Sun: 11am-7pm

6. Gatsby Books 

When Gatsby Books temporarily transitioned to online-only shopping, there was a slight hole left in the hearts of this Long Beach Airport-local bookshop, known and beloved not just for its books, but for its overall aura. Yes, there’s a shop cat to enjoy, but their readings and events are incredibly intimate. There’s even been a wedding there! 

As far as their selection goes, they sell new and gently used books of various categories, and offer up recommendations for every genre and “feel” you could possibly think of, and quite possibly some that’d never cross your mind. Gatsby Books is the type of neighborhood store where customers become friends and staff start to feel like family, and that familiar welcoming energy only adds to the list of reasons to regularly return.

5535 E Spring St.  Long Beach, Ca 90808 | 562.208.5862 | Open daily 10:00am – 6:00pm

7. Page Against the Machine

Outside of its incredibly clever name (any Rage Against the Machine fans out there?), Page Against the Machine offers the same type of sociopolitical vigor as the band itself does, just found within the worded lines of pages instead of lyrical lines of a song. Its radical nature has made it the ideal meet-up spot for those heavily involved in social justice, advocacy and activism. 

This tiny shop near Long Beach’s 4th Street Corridor is a great spot for learning myriad skills, DIY projects and any other bit of information you’d need to be self-sustainable. Their rallying cry “Fightin’ words for mass defiance, empowerment, and self-reliance!” is one that’ll stick with you for just as long as the invigorating and revolutionary air that fills the whole shop.

2714 E. 4th Street, Long Beach, CA  90814 | Tuesday-Sunday: 11 am – 6 pm, Closed Monday | 562.588.7075

PASADENA

8. The Battery Books and Music

A potentially less overwhelming atmosphere than the Last Bookstore, Pasadena’s The Battery Books and Music allows you to search through a similar catalog without dealing with the difficult parking and tourist energy of Downtown LA. The store’s vibes are more like that of a cozy library, with long rows of wooden shelves stuffed with more texts than you’d ever expect to see. 

They also sell records and vintage children’s books, they’ve hosted live concerts in the past and hopefully in the future. Even if their live events are shut down for a bit, The Battery Books and Music is walking distance from the Pasadena Convention Center, so you could easily stop by the shop on your way to some bigger goings on. 

26 South Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101 | 626.376.9913 | Sun-Fri: 2pm-8pm, Sat: 2pm-9pm, Closed Weds

9. Vroman’s Bookstore

Local history buffs, this one’s for you. Vroman’s is not only Pasadena’s oldest bookstore, but it’s also the oldest bookstore in the Southern California region. 

Founded in 1894, the original Vroman’s location on Colorado Boulevard has been a fixture for books, stationery supplies, magazines and newspapers, expanding to another location in Pasadena’s Hastings Ranch. 

Vroman’s holds live readings and other events, and even has a wine bar—aptly named after the year the store was founded—inside if you really want to nestle in for a vibe-driven reading session. Be warned, though, since The 1894 wine bar is only located inside Vroman’s flagship location.

695 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91101 | 626.449.5320 | Mon-Sat: 10am-9pm, Sunday: 10am-7pm (Curbside pick-up: Sun-Tues: 10am-6:30pm, Wed-Sat: 10am-8:30pm)

Hastings Ranch: 3729 E Foothill Blvd Pasadena, CA 91107 | 626.351.0828 | Sun-Thur: 9am-7pm, Fri-Sat:9am-8pm (Curbside pick-up: Sun-Thur 9am-6:30pm, Fri-Sat: 9am- 7:30pm)

10 – Whitmore Rare Books

We had to put Whitmore Rare Books on the list, though there may be a particular hangup in regard to continually shopping there—the pricing. When they say “rare,” they really mean rare—much of their wares are original prints or ones of extremely limited runs. Depending on what you’ve got your eyes on, a first edition could run you upwards of $2,200. 

For example, at time of publication, they have the original Ann Yearsley poem A Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave-Trade going for $8,500. They do have some books for under $1,000 too, just in case you were wondering.

121 E. Union St., Pasadena, Ca 91103 | 626.714.7720 | Mon-Fri: 9:00am-5:00pm, Saturdays by appointment, Closed Sun.

You can reach Cervanté Pope at cpope@heymediagroup.com

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